Apologies to my mom for all the cursing in this entry, but it’s been an interesting week.

Sunday was the Brooklyn Book Festival, which was pretty fun. The weather was perfect, and the festival drew aΒ  sizable crowd. There were kids activities and cool swag and semi-celebrities like that guy who played Vizzini and Grand Negus Zek, or that guy that writes those Star Trek books Dani likes. NY ComicCon took over a whole parking lot, and had some cool panels, signings, and vendors. I was on their Sci Fi and Fantasy in NYC panel, which was great fun. It was a well attended panel with the right number of speakers and a broad topic. Dave Roman did a great job moderating, and I got to hang with my con buddy SC Butler.

After the panel was my signing, which was kind of a letdown. I sold one book right away and another girl asked me to sign her notebook, and then I spent the next hour feeling like a wallflower at a party. I realize this is par for the course, especially for new writers like me, but it’s still a phobia of mine.

Once, when I was a kid, my mom planned this big birthday party for me. I was all dressed up in my parents basement, which was decorated with streamers, Spider-man plates & napkins, etc. But it was February, and a blizzard hit. A bad one. Absolutely no one came. I was left in that room by myself, feeling like I didn’t have a friend in the world. Ever since, I’ve had this terror of planning events that no one shows up to. Every time I throw a party, I get butterflies in my stomach and can’t stop pacing the floor until at least 10 people show up. Thankfully, I had a couple of friends there, in addition to Dani and the baby, to keep me from feeling too unloved.

That night, one of my teeth was strangely sensitive.

Monday I went for a walk in the park, and then stopped at Terrance Bagels on Prospect Park West for a sandwich. It was awesome. Honey maple turkey on a sesame bagel with lettuce, tomato, salt & pepper, bacon, and a dash of mayo. Perfection.

I took it to a bench in the park and ate it while reading Ender’s Game. Delightful. But then, as I was chewing, there was this horrific crunch. I reached into my mouth to pull out the offending object, and thought it was a bone. That was odd, finding a bone in deli meat, but I shrugged and tossed it away, going back to eating.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t a bone. It was too shiny and enameled. It was part of a tooth. A human tooth.

Immediately, my writer’s brain took over. How did a tooth get in my sandwich? Was someone murdered at the meat packing plant? Caught in a machine? Should I take it back to the store and complain? I started thinking about the hoax a few years ago where someone claimed they found a human finger in their fast food and sued the chain. Can you get a disease from biting into someone’s tooth? It’s surely not sanitary.

But then I gave a start and a light bulb flickered on in my head. With dawning horror, I put a finger in my mouth. Sure enough, the tooth that had been sensitive the night before was now missing a huge chunk. I bit down experimentally. No pain. Huh. I called the dentist and booked an appointment for Wednesday. Looks like I’m getting old. Next thing, I’ll fall out of bed and break my hip.

Tuesday we had a full schedule. Cassie needed her last pediatric orthopedist visit to make sure her hip dysplasia was cured. We had to go up to Lennox Hill hospital on 77 & Lex in Manhattan for that, which is a hellish place to park. Indeed, it took me a half hour of circling to find a spot several blocks from the hospital. Cassie checked out fine. They measured her and the tape said she was practically perfect in every way.

Then Dani had a doc appt. on 73 & Park. Another half hour to find a spot. After that it was around 2:30 and I just wanted to go home and work, but Dani wanted to get some stuff at Bed Bath & Beyond, so we headed over to the BB&B on 61st and 2nd. Lo and behold, we found a spot immediately! Huzzah! It was one a metered street packed with cars. I put an hour in the meter and we went inside it was 2:45pm.

35 minutes later we come out, loaded with packages, and the car is gone.

Just gone.

Dani was about to call the cops, but the owner of a diner on the corner came out and told us it was towed. Apparently, the street switches to a no parking zone at 3pm. He says they do this every day. The traffic cops stand on the street at 2:59 and pre-write the ($115) tickets so they can put them on the cars the SECOND it turns 3. Then they call the tow trucks that come at 3:01 ($185 to get your car back from impound).

3pm. Who ever heard of that shit? I look up, and there is a bent sign, twisted behind a lamp post and half-hidden by some tree branches.

So we’re trapped in the city with no car, a baby, and a shitload of packages. We can’t take a cab, because we don’t have a car seat, and it’s illegal to drive with a baby without one. I go to the cop who wrote the ticket (he was directing traffic), and ask him WTF. He shrugs and tells me that’s what I get for parking illegally. I tell him I am stuck with a baby and no way to get to the impound lot and ask if there’s anything he can do to help. He shrugs and tells me this is NYC. (Translation: “Go fuck yourself”.) I ask if he can at least tell me where they took my friggin’ car. He says 33 and 12th. This is ALL the way across and down town. It is also WRONG. The impound lot is on 38th. Asshole. Is your mother proud of you? I doubt it.

We end up calling Dani’s stepmother to pick her and the baby up while I go get the car. Of course, it is a huge pain in the ass where I am treated like a fucking criminal.

I have a lot of respect for police in general. It is a hard job that pays shit, often puts you in harm’s way, and gets you little respect or thanks, even though it is absolutely necessary for our civilized society to function.

But that said, laying a trap so you can steal my fucking car in the middle of the day and extort $300 out of me doesn’t engender much love. I realize the city is broke, but I don’t see why bad city management makes it okay to use mobster tactics rob the citizenry. My car wasn’t blocking a fire hydrant or hospital entrance. It wasn’t in front of a driveway or loading dock. It wasn’t blocking traffic, and the street wasn’t even busy. It was at a meter with fucking time on it! They knew I would have to be back in 45 minutes either way. Was it REALLY necessary to fucking TOW the car?

No, of course not. They just wanted an excuse to jack me out of more money. Where does car theft fit in the serve and protect motto?

By the time we got everything settled, it was rush hour, so we were stuck in the city anyway. Got home at 8:30, almost five hours later than we should have.

Wednesday I went to the dentist. He said I needed a crown, and should come back the next day to get fitted. I stroll out, and decide to stop at the bank on my way home. I have a bunch of checks to deposit. Over $10K, actually. For a moment I think I should go to a teller because it is an unusually big deposit, but the checks are all neatly written and Chase bank has those fancy check scanners in the ATMs now, so I just go to the machine.

The machine took the checks, but didn’t register them. This happens sometimes, and it spits them back out and tells you to use a teller. I wait for them to come back out.

And wait.

And wait.

There is a grinding noise, and then a message comes up that the machine needs service. Fuck.

I run into the bank and go to the customer service desk, feeling frantic. There are 4 women at the desk. One is going through papers, the other three are standing around chatting. None of them are helping customers. Whew.

“The ATM just ate over ten thousand dollars of my checks!” I cry. “Can someone please help me?”

No one even looks up. One of the chatting women glances at me for a split second, not even making eye contact, and holds up a hand. “Just a minute,” she says.

You know how cartoon characters sometimes get so mad that steam comes out of their ears? That was how I felt in that moment. “Maybe you didn’t hear me,” I snapped. “The ATM in your bank just ate TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS of my money. Will one of you please help me right the hell now?” I wasn’t quiet about it, either. People all around looked up.

The woman who had talk-to-the-handed me sighs and turns to me, all pissed off. She doesn’t make eye contact even now. Just takes my info, gets her keys, and goes into the room behind the machines. A few minutes later, she returns with the mangled checks, pushing them at me still without meeting my eyes. “If you don’t trust the ATM, use a teller,” she said.

“Why are you acting like I’m the jerk here?” I ask. “I’m sorry I raised my voice (I wasn’t, really), but when I come in with a legitimate emergency and none of the FOUR of you can even be bothered to look up, what do you expect?”

It’s clear she doesn’t give a shit. I consider looking for the manager, but decide I have better things to do and storm over to the teller to deposit the checks.

Thursday I was scared to leave the house. I was feeling jinxed. But I wanted to get fitted for the crown ASAP, because I am starting Jury Duty Friday. I go and listen to the sounds of drilling in the waiting room before I’m called in.

The dentist gives me a shot of Novocaine and starts drilling. As he does, he starts muttering. “Oh, no. Not good. Not good. Aw, geez. Lots of decay here. Uh-oh. Nope.” Then he looks at me.

“I can’t save this tooth,” he says. “Since you’re already numb, I suggest you have it pulled right now. I can refer you to an oral surgeon uptown.” Thirty minutes later, I am in the surgeon’s chair as he grunts and twists the pliers in my mouth.

“It’s not moving,” says. “Gonna have to cut it in half.”

Twenty excruciating minutes follow. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say the day cost me another $955. Good thing I have dental insurance… oh, wait. I don’t.

So now it’s Thursday night. I feel like I’ve been punched in the jaw, and am still tasting blood. Tomorrow I need to be at the Brooklyn Borough Hall (also the location of the Book Festival) at 9am to begin serving on a Grand Jury. No choice in the matter; I’ve been drafted. Grand Juries meet every day for a month.

A fucking MONTH. Who has that much of their life to spare? Screwed by the city twice in one week.

Hopefully that is the only bad thing that will happen tomorrow. I’m wondering if I accidentally walked under a ladder or broke a mirror.

Thankfully, when I am feeling beaten down by life, I have my own personal Tony Robbins to get me fired up and ready to go.


So I went in to Jury Duty, and found out that I was only assigned to a two week (10 business day) turn instead of a month. Granted that is “less bad” luck rather than good, but while I was there I put a dollar in a vending machine for a $.75 Snickers bar, and got $.50 change!

A small sign, perhaps, but after the week I’ve had, I will take it as evidence of an uptick.

Posted on September 17, 2009 at 11:58 pm by PeatB
Filed under Appearances, Cassie, Life, Musings

16 responses to “Jinxed”

  1. Cheear up, Peter!

    Posted by Reycat, on September 18th, 2009 at 6:01 am
  2. Cheer up, Peter!

    You can be sure that if you came to Tenerife I know at least 10 people who would love to have their “El hombre marcado” signed.

    And about your car being towed, I’m afraid this is happening all around the world right now, every city needs money.

    Anyway, just remember you have the best possible way of lifting your spirit right by your side. Just look at your little girl πŸ™‚

    Love you books, can’t wait until I can get my hands on a certain spear.

    Posted by Carlos, on September 18th, 2009 at 6:07 am
  3. Thanks, Carlos!

    That’s the second time in less than 24 hours that my Spanish readers have cheered me up. There was also this great review in Fantasymundo, even though I needed google translate to read it:


    Posted by Peat, on September 18th, 2009 at 7:27 am
  4. Come by Jacksonville one day and I’ll bring my book for you to sign!

    Regarding your week, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a week that bad. I feel the same way about speed traps. There’s a well-known one in Waldo, Florida. The speed limit through the town is unreasonably low, and the cops wait at one end of town for you to enter. We always see cars pulled over when we drive through.

    Maybe you’ll at least get an interesting case in that grand jury that could be story fodder one day.

    Posted by Tia Nevitt, on September 18th, 2009 at 7:40 am
  5. Ran across this story right after I read your blog entry. Interesting stuff, though it may make the ticket even more frustrating. πŸ˜› http://redtape.msnbc.com/2009/09/competition-for-the-right-to-profit-from-parking-tickets-is-apparently-pretty-cut-throat—last-month-one-of-the-nations.html#posts

    Posted by Deanna Hoak, on September 18th, 2009 at 9:27 am
  6. I don’t know if this will help, but for whatever it’s worth…
    and somebody got me this nice camera if you want to take a picture of the obscured half-hidden sign.

    At least now I’m (at least somewhat) responsible for only your second most miserable car experience of 2009. But I wish NYC hadn’t taken the crown away from me.

    Posted by Joshua Bilmes, on September 18th, 2009 at 4:31 pm
  7. your week sound as ugly as mine- but the difference is I’ll get really bad grades for this week while you lost some money, a tooth and some of your precious life-time.

    Just cheer up and make sure you never park again in that jinxed street πŸ™‚

    Posted by Eve, on September 18th, 2009 at 5:29 pm
  8. You’re building up karma points, bro. Next week, Aria Giovani is going to dive-tackle you wearing a French Maid costume and hand you a Nebula award.

    Right after you win the lottery.

    Posted by Myke, on September 18th, 2009 at 8:45 pm
  9. Oh, poor Peat!
    I feel with you. But cheer up. They’ll come better weeks. And I am always the wallflower on partys. So you’re not alone πŸ˜‰
    And if you feel so bad again, just think of all your fans around the world, who would love to meet you, but just don’t have the money for a flight to NY (like me^^)

    Posted by Iris, on September 19th, 2009 at 4:34 pm
  10. Wow. Uh… can I write you a haiku or something? It’s the biggest weapon in my cheering-people-up arsenal.

    I think I need to upgrade my arsenal, come to think of it.

    Posted by Carrie Harris, on September 19th, 2009 at 9:28 pm
  11. Thanks everyone, for your support. It really does cheer me up and make me feel loved whenever someone comments on the blog.

    It’s Saturday night, so the week will be over shortly. I am determined that next week be better, Jury Duty and all.

    Posted by Peat, on September 19th, 2009 at 10:17 pm
  12. Mom still loves you – despite all the naughty words. As usual, you exaggerated about your 3-yr. old party. You forgot to mention that I scoured the street for any kid on the block – no matter their age – to trudge through the snow and enjoy your cake with you. You looked so CUTE that day in your suit and bow tie. Sorry it traumatized you all these years.

    I hope you have only blue skies going forward!

    Love you, Mom

    Posted by De Brett, on September 20th, 2009 at 12:31 pm
  13. All very true. One should never underestimate a mother’s love. I’m surprised that I was only 3, though. I remember it quite vividly.

    I love you too.

    Posted by Peat, on September 20th, 2009 at 12:41 pm
  14. Sending good vibes over the Pond. Seems to me like a jobsworth ‘city guard’ (whose name bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain NYPD officer whose name should be on your ticket) is due a grisly death in the third instalment!

    Posted by Ben, on September 20th, 2009 at 5:43 pm
  15. Good Lord, Man!

    Always good for a laugh when you think your having a bad day:

    I dont know what this is with the police, but I asure you its as bad on the west coast. Its like they decide “Hey, its 9AM, im pulling over the next car I see.” I think 3 out of 4 cars on the road are in violation of some obscure statute or other, so these guys just ring the cash register all day. Its extortion, is what it is. $400 is nothing to someone pulling down 200k per, but for working people its the difference between making your car payment or not.

    Whew, sorry. Didnt mean to go nuts, but its just wrong.

    Posted by Greg Falkner, on September 21st, 2009 at 4:17 pm
  16. Really thought I was having a bad week till I read your blog ,I feel much better now, so thank you. Thank you also for your terrific book which I have just finished reading, cant wait for Desert Spear, but anticipation is part of the enjoyment.

    And sad to say Australia has its fair share of money grabbing cops and local government, and rude bank tellers and shop assistants seem to unfortunately be the norm nowadays.
    Thanks again for your great book.

    Posted by Fiona Quinn, on September 29th, 2009 at 12:00 am